In D.C… Speaking Your Mind Might Get You Fired


In a sad flashback to the Bush era, it appears that an Obama Administration official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, is under pressure to resign over comments he recently made regarding the Libyan uprising.  While giving his testimony to a congressional hearing regarding the situation in Libya Clapper commented that Gaddafi’s, “regime will prevail,” in the longer term because of its superior firepower.  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham immediately called for the Director’s resignation saying that, “his comments will make the situation more difficult for those opposing Gadhafi.”

Now… I don’t enjoy defending the intelligence community given human rights violations, extraordinary rendition, and blowback caused by their interference in other country’s sovereign affairs.  But Clapper hits the nail directly on the head with his assessment of what is happening in Libya.  The longer that Gaddafi has to re-consolidate his power, assault the rebels in the eastern half of the country, and practice realpolitik the more likely it is that he and his sons, will come out of this triumphant.

There is the very real opportunity in Libya to support the flowering of a democratic society.  Obama  missed the ball during the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, but now the world is faced with a dictator in the guise of Gaddafi that will use any means necessary to crush the will of “his” people.

The situation in Libya has morphed; peaceful protesters have been forced to take up arms if only for their own survival.  As of two weeks ago there was no turning back for many of the protesters.  If Gaddafi had chemical weapons available to him I’m sure he would have few misgivings about using them against the protesters come rebels.

The rebels are taking concrete steps to place themselves on legitimate footing.  The Interim National Council has been formed and already recognized by France.  Without support in the form of food, medical supplies, funding, and weapons the rebels will likely fail and the world will be faced with a humanitarian crisis and an even more paranoid dictator in control of a major oil exporting country.

The American Revolution was only successful because of outside support from the French.  We have the chance to support a home-grown democratic movement, not the astroturf kind that George Bush gave the world at the cost of trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, and million of civilian casualties.

  1. CharleyCarp

    The French didn’t come in until after Saratoga (ie, defeat and surrender of a major force), and only did so in order to cripple a rival superpower. Their intervention added to their looming bankruptcy, which brought the regime down, and the French king who’d supported the Americans lost his head. Not exactly the first analogy I’d reach for.

    • carfreestupidity

      They might not have entered the war until late in the game, but they supplied the American revolutionaries with gunpowder, financing, and assistance in training an army from almost the beginning.

  2. Ingemar Johansson

    My name is Jimmy Clapper
    I’m near 70 years old
    I go to office daily
    without even being told

    I figure out intelligence
    before I take my nap
    and drink my Metamucil
    with some water from the tap

    Oh yeah I said it’s China
    and USSR too
    It’s not USSR now?
    Golly gee, who knew??

    I think Qaddafi will win
    yes he’ll win in the end
    prevail with help from Iran
    our faithful trusting friend

    Iran is not our friend now?
    Nor North Korea either?
    Man I didn’t know that
    I’d better take a breather

    My name is Jimmy Clapper
    I’m near 70 years old
    it’s time to take my nap now
    at least that’s what I’m told

  3. Yeah, Charley knows his history – no one that fought with us in the Revolution really came out on top. But I think you and I are in a rare instance of foreign policy agreement, lizard. We’ve already chosen sides. Once that’s done, its time to make sure our side wins.

    However, I am puzzled at your willingness to involve ourselves in this issue. I understand our recalcitrance; once we start killing Libyans, directly or indirectly, we’ve crossed into sketchy territory. I think it’s worth it, but it’s not action to be taken lightly. I guess I’m just surprised that you support it, but obviously I don’t actually know you so that surprise isn’t based on much.

    • carfreestupidity

      Wrong author Wolf.

      I don’t think we should get directly involved. But recognizing the National Council Govt and supplying them with supplies and funding would go along way to tipping the balance. We probably shouldn’t do so unilaterally, but through NATO.

      • As I noted at ID – the Arab league has already endorsed a no-fly zone, though the African Union has not, much to their discredit. I don’t think we can recognize the rebels as a legit government and then allow them to be destroyed – if we recognize them as the real government of Libya I think we have to be willing to make sure they win.

    • lizard19

      we’ll have to wait for another day to find agreement.

      i most certainly do not support American involvement in Libya, at all, not even through NATO.

  4. Ah sorry, I mixed up the authors. Can we afford to let our support for Arab revolutions be limited only to those Arabs whose leaders have some scruples? More importantly, can we trust Gaddafi with the lives of the people of Benghazi? I think CFS is right – we can’t sit back and let an actual people’s movement get crushed.

    • lizard19

      we can’t sit back and let an actual people’s movement get crushed?

      does the same go for Yemen and Bahrain? how about Saudi Arabia?

      we don’t have any credibility in the region. our intervention will only make things worse.

      • Yes, the same goes for all of those countries. The US should obviously call for Gulf governments to liberalize and meet demands from the protesters, though you and I know how likely that is. But the humanitarian stakes in Libya are far, far higher, as is the chance of actually accomplishing regime change.

        When both the rebels and the Arab League call for some kind of no-fly zone, there comes a point at which our credibility is damaged more by neglectful inaction than by careful, considered, and limited intervention.

  5. Pogo Possum

    Note to Charlie and other history buffs – while the French entered the war against England after Saratoga, they covertly provided desperatly needed financial support and supplies to the American Colonies for several years preceeding their “official” entry.

    Some historians now argue Spain provided even greater financial support than France and further helped divert British naval support from the war in the colonies to defend against Spanish and French attempts to retake Gibralter and Minorca in the Mediterranean.

    And let’s not forget the Dutch who supplied superior firearms and strategically timed lending to the American war effort. You can also thank the Dutch for lending the money Jefferson needed for the Louisiana Purchase.

    Note to CFS – Just so we are all on the same page here, you do realize that declaring a “No Fly Zone” also means ‘enforcing’ a No Fly Zone. And that means, regardless of how many other nations come on board, sending in US planes with US crews (who may be killed) to shoot down Libyan aircraft, killing Libyan pilots, bombing Libyan anti-aircraft installations trying to shoot down our planes and often bombing airfields and other installations which means deaths of Libyan military personnel and civilians who become ‘collateral damage”. It also puts in danger the remaining 6,000 Americans who are still in Libya.

    • carfreestupidity

      I realize a no fly zone requires enforcement and poses the risk of our personal being shot down, but you’ll notice that I never called for a no fly zone.

      If the goal is to even the odds and give the protesters come rebels a chance at winning this thing, then there are better ways to do it. The rebels have already shot down several fighters using captured anti-aircraft guns. They are proving that they have the will to push Gaddafi out… Now they simply need the means to do it.

    • CharleyCarp

      Right. I didn’t understand CFS to be calling for secret aid.

  6. Kpkptrng

    Uh, ahem … there will be no intervention. Some will say that we prefer a devil we know to one we don’t, but it’s far more basic than that. We are a devil ourselves, and like other devils.

    Ghaddafi will survive because the U.S. and Old Europe cannot allow a democratic Libya, or Egypt for that matter (still in play).

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